Home studies are an essential component of the adoption process. They can seem somewhat intimidating, as it means an outside party will be poking into your daily routine, your family dynamics, and even your finances. It’s just one part of making sure that every adopted child goes to an appropriate, loving home, though, so don’t fret too much; you will be best prepared if you understand what will be covered in the home study and prepare to offer the information and documentation that will be requested.
Who Needs a Home Study?
Every interstate and agency adoption require a home study. Depending on your location, you may also need a home study if you plan to foster a child. In some cases, a home study is performed to approve a prospective family for both fostering and adoption. This can be useful in situations where the intended outcome of fostering is not necessarily adoption, but adoption eventually takes place. A local adoption attorney can help you understand the laws that apply to your specific situation.
How Long Does a Home Study Take?
Home studies can take anywhere from a few months up to six months, depending on your specific needs and unplanned delays. The process can seem exceptionally lengthy, and some families feel overwhelmed. Rest assured that the reason for such a thorough inquiry is to give each adopted child a good home and loving family. The home study is simply a precaution to ensure that you and your family are ready for the responsibilities of (and the inevitable changes that come with) the introduction of a new member.
What Does a Home Study...Well, Study?
By the time your home study is complete, your caseworker will be able to compile a report that includes:
· Background information on your family.
· Financial information.
· Personal references.
· Details about your family’s dynamics (how you interact with each other).
· The important figures in your life and your social interactions.
· Your experiences or expectations as a parent.
· Background checks for criminal, civil, and other issues.
· Routine family outings and activities.
· Your preparedness for adoption and your reasons for adopting a child.
· The type of child best suited to your family.
During the home study process, you can expect to be asked questions about all of the above issues. You’ll likely be asked to provide bank records and other documents to verify your income, contact information for the people who are closest to your family, and in-depth, one-on-one and joint interviews between the worker and your family members. Younger family members may not necessarily be ready for such interviews, and you can ask to have the process delayed while you help them understand the adoption and what it means for your family.
How Much Does a Home Study Cost?
The cost of a home study can vary greatly depending on the type of adoption you’re pursuing. Domestic adoptions through the foster care system may have a relatively low cost for a home study, which is often reimbursed after the child leaves the foster care system and is formally adopted.
Independent and agency adoptions) may require a private home study, often costing a few thousand dollars. Make sure you understand the costs, fees, possible reimbursements, and how your home study may be used and request the information in writing so you’re clear on the details.
Getting the Help You Need
Every adoption is unique. Your needs and process may be very different from others who have adopted a child. At Jennifer Fairfax, Family Formation Law Offices, we're ready to help you navigate the process of bringing a new member into your family. We have the knowledge and experience you need during your adoption. Contact us today!